Archive for the ‘knowledge’ Category

False Predictions based on accurate knowledge

August 21, 2012

In 1960…a best-selling book said that the United States had only a 13-year supply of domestic petroleum at the existing rate of usage. At that time, the known petroleum reserves of the United States were not quite 32 billion barrels. At the end of the 13 years, the known petroleum reserves of the United States were more than 36 billion barrels. Yet the original statistics and the arithmetic based on them were both accurate. Why then did the United States not run out of oil by 1973? Was it just dumb luck that more oil was discovered—or were there more fundamental economic reasons?

Just as shortages and surpluses are not simply a matter of how much physical stuff there is, either absolutely or relative to the population, so known reserves of natural resources are not simply a matter of how much physical stuff there is underground. For natural resources as well, prices are crucial. So are present values.

Sowell, Thomas, Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy (Basic Books, 2004) p.205

You never know when you’ll go

August 21, 2012

A news story some years ago told of a speculator who made a deal with an elderly woman who needed money. In exchange for her making him the heir to her house, he agreed to pay her a fixed sum every month as long as she lived. However, this one-to-one deal did not work out as planned because she lived far longer than anyone expected and the speculator died before she did. An insurance company not only has the advantage of large numbers, it has the further advantage that its existence is not limited to the human lifespan.

Sowell, Thomas, Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy (Basic Books, 2004) p.205

May 19, 2011

I have directed close attention to this subject and the result without one solitary exception is, that I never knew an individual gain any considerable mass of really digested and valuable knowledge, without unwearied industry.

Professor Miller, address to students at Princeton Seminary, in Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry

Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all

June 5, 2010

Know Thyself

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is Man. Placed on this isthmus of a middle state A being darkly wise and rudely great: With too much knowledge for the sceptic side, With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride, He hangs between; in doubt to act or rest, In doubt to deem himself a God or Beast, In doubt his mind or body to prefer; Born but to die, and reasoning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such Whether he thinks too little or too much: Chaos of thought and passion, all confused; Still by himself abused, or disabused; Created half to rise and half to fall; Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of truth, in endless errors hurled; The glory, jest and riddle of the world!

Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

Pope captures beautifully the contradiction that man is: the riddle of the world!

40,000 dogs and 200,000 cats were killed to ‘prevent’ the spread of the 1665 Plague

December 8, 2009

During the Plague of London, 1665, the death toll peaked in September at 7,265, Daniel Defoe..reports that 40,000 dogs and 200,000 cats were killed, as it was feared that these domestic animals might be carrying the disease. In fact this was the worst possible action to take, for the real culprits were the fleas carried by the black rats. In the absence of their natural predators, these rats multiplied and the plague spread.

Faith Cook, Fearless Pilgrim: The Life and Times of John Bunyan, Evangelical Press, 2008, p.245

Human solutions are not always beneficial.

what is wisdom? Where can it be found? … it can be found only inside oneself

November 17, 2009

…what is wisdom? Where can it be found? … it can be found only inside oneself.

E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered

Whereas God says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.’ Prov.1.7

And what it all boils down to, is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet

November 14, 2009

And what it all boils down to
Is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet

Alanis Morissette – Hand In My Pocket

It’s one thing to say, ‘I haven’t got it all figured out just yet’ but quite another to say ‘no one’s really got it figured out just yet’. The former is humble ignorance, the latter is arrogant ignorance.To say, ‘I have no idea about quantum physics’ is one thing, but to say, ‘No one knows about quantum physics,’ ian s arrogant claim to know what others do or could possibly know. How could Alanis Morissette know that ‘no one’s really got it figured out just yet’?

I do not believe that there is any way of obtaining knowledge except the scientific way

October 11, 2009

I do not believe that there is any way of obtaining knowledge except the scientific way. Some of the problems with which philosophy has concerned itself can be solved by scientific methods; others cannot. Those which cannot are insoluble.

Bertrand Russell (speaking in 1922), in Bertrand Russell; The Ghost of Madness, Ray Monk, p.20

Does he know this through the scientific method? Of course, it would be impossible to prove scientifically. But then, he claims to know one thing that isn’t proven by science. Not the first of Mr Russell’s problems that are ‘insoluble’.

I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me

October 8, 2009

I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Isaac Newton, last words d.1727

the more I see – the more I know …The more I know – the less I understand

October 8, 2009

the more I see – the more I know …The more I know – the less I understand. …I’m the changingman.

Paul Weller

The acquisition of knowedge does not itself provide the interpretive key for knowledge. To know many things leaves unanswered what, if anything, unites them all in a common frame of reference. In that sense, nothing is really known. What is the unity that interprets the diversity of experience?